Student

Tiana Rawls-White

  • Baking & Culinary
  • Accounting & Business Administration

If her story could be summed up in one word it would be ‘growth.’ Change can be difficult. But Tiana embraces it. Her transfer to Penn College and the support she found when she got here cultivated new opportunities, opened doors, and fueled her future.

 

Tiana Rawls-White

Tiana transferred to Penn College from a large-city school in exchange for a more personal approach. She fell in love with smaller class sizes and the circle of support she found. Best of all, she's building lasting relationships, breaking barriers, and celebrating diversity. 

TAKING THE LEAD

Q&A with Tiana

WHAT PROMPTED YOUR TRANSFER TO PENN COLLEGE?

My previous school missed the personal aspect of learning. It was very fast paced and classes were only three weeks long. I learned a lot, but decided that I wanted to attend a school that was not so militant and really took the time to teach their students, as well as get to know them. I am also very close to my family, so Penn College's location helped.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE TRANSFER PROCESS?

The transfer process was very easy and fast. It didn’t take me longer than a month or so to find out that I was accepted as a transfer student.

ARE YOU THANKFUL THAT YOU TRANSFERRED? IF SO, WHY?

I am very thankful that I was able to transfer. I am doing better academically, socially, and personally. Although I have great memories from my other school, I have really blossomed at Penn College.

WAS THE TRANSFER PART OF YOUR PLAN OR DID YOU UPDATE YOUR PLAYBOOK ON THE FLY?

My plan was to graduate from my original school. It was my dream school and the only one I applied to. It was a spontaneous decision to leave. I don’t normally do things spontaneously. I like to plan everything. I realized that it was okay for me to change my plans to cater to my mental and physical needs. In fact, doing so is the only way for me, or anyone, to achieve happiness.

WHAT MIGHT YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS NERVOUS ABOUT TRANSFERRING?

I agree that change can be terrifying, but I think the best thing any of us can do is to trust our instincts and do the things we feel are best for ourselves. Chances are that if you think about doing something like transferring, on more than one occasion, it’s most likely the best decision. Don’t let others affect your choice, because that’s exactly what it is, your choice.

DID YOU VISIT PENN COLLEGE BEFORE MAKING THE DECISION TO TRANSFER? IF SO, WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION?

I had never been to Penn College in my life before my first semester. I knew a couple of people who had graduated from Penn College. I trusted their experiences with the school to make my decision. When I did finally step foot on campus, I just thought about how beautiful it was and how excited I was, and still am, to continue my education and start this new chapter in my life.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR PENN COLLEGE EXPERIENCE THUS FAR?

This is a tough question. I have had a great experience and find it difficult to pinpoint the best part. But if I must choose, the best part about Penn College is our ability and willingness to change and grow. Being a black, bisexual woman, I face many challenges like racism, homophobia, and sexism. I have found that there is no room for those practices at Penn College. Penn College may not be as diverse as others, but we are on the right track to becoming more diverse and accepting of others. I found comfort in this, and I believe that it creates a better learning environment, one that minorities can thrive in!

YOU WERE INVITED TO ACCOMPANY CHEF CHARLES TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

Oh, the Derby! I had a blast! I had never worked with Chef Charles before the Kentucky Derby. I found that he is a really great guy who is open to tough conversations and has a plethora of information that one can learn from. I worked in the front of the house, so I was helping care for our guests face-to-face. I met a lot of nice, encouraging, and knowledgeable people. I learned a lot about organization, racing, and above all patience. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and hope to make it my own annual tradition.

WHAT CLUBS OR ORGANIZATIONS ARE YOU INVOLVED IN?

This past semester, I was fortunate enough to develop the Black Student Union (BSU). I strongly believe that people need to feel comfortable in their learning environment. This can be difficult when there is a cultural barrier between other students and teachers. It was not until this past semester that I felt I was in the right place to create this space for black students to feel like they can be completely themselves. The BSU also provides a space for non-black students to feel comfortable learning about Black culture and improves our campus’s understanding and acceptance of Black students.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS CONSIDERING COMING TO PENN COLLEGE?

Penn College is not like most schools. They care. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Utilize the resources the college provides. Join clubs. And make friends. Build those relationships with your teachers, faculty and staff, and other students. Chances are the relationships you build here will last a lifetime. I know I have made some friends that I can call family.

HOW HAVE YOU GROWN FROM YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR TO TODAY?

From the time I started until now, I have grown exponentially! I have gone from not being very involved to considering Penn College my second home, and I’m a commuter! To be specific, the counseling services that Penn College provides really helped me find myself and become a better, happier version of myself. I have had teachers, advisers, and professors contribute to this as well. I am getting teary-eyed just thinking about the ways I have grown. I am proof that having a great environment to learn in can change lives.

WHAT ARE YOUR POST-GRADUATION PLANS?

Once I graduate, I plan on going into event sales. As I have mentioned, I love to plan, as well as bring happiness to others. That’s why I will be in the event planning world!

I am fortunate enough to have already begun my dream job. I was recently hired at Ard’s Farm in Mifflinburg. We cater and plan events. In fact, I just finished my second week as an Event Coordinator and yes, it’s a lot of work, and I absolutely love it! It doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like a dedicated hobby. It helps that I already feel as though I am part of the Ard’s family. Kyle Ard, my leader, my boss, has plans for me to become one of their event sales personnel. I cannot wait to see how much I learn and where I go!

Guaranteed Momentum

"I am very thankful that I was able to transfer. I am doing better academically, socially, and personally. Although I have great memories from my previous school, I have really blossomed at Penn College."

Tiana Rawls-White

A monumental contribution

When Tiana found out there was no Black Student Union at Penn College, she was determined to start one. 

Her vision realized
News
Juneteenth celebration observed in September

Juneteenth celebration observed in September

Tiana decided to organizer a two-day celebration of Juneteenth in September so more students would get the opportunity to learn about this observance.

Learn more

Real-World Ready
Ready. Set. Go.

Ready. Set. Go.

Tiana was invited to travel with a group of students to cook for an elite crowd of fans at the iconic Kentucky Derby. 

Read about her experience

Programs

Applied Management

Whether your passion lies in culinary arts or a technical area, this degree will give you the momentum to rise to administrative and management positions in your field.

All Programs

Unsure which major is right for you? See all academic programs at-a-glance.